Summer service places volunteers

by LaShanda D. Maze
Features Editor

Continuing the University’s tradition of service, students were matched with Summer Service sites, Wednesday, May 7.

It was the first time that students had to wait until the annual Summer Service Donor’s Tea before they knew exactly where their sites would be. In the past, students knew of their sites sometime during the workshop process.

It was an exciting time for both sides of the coin. Sponsors anxiously looked at each student while students seemed amicable, talking to potential sponsors.

The atmosphere was relaxed and students seemed to be ready for the upcoming summer.

“I think the children really need someone,” said sophomore Toni Castro about why she chose to do Summer Service. “It really encourages them [the children] to learn.”

Castro first became interested in Summer Service when she took the Youth at Risk Service Learning course this semester. She worked at Roynon Elementary School in La Verne to fulfill her volunteer commitment.

Jeff Brehmeyer, from Camp La Verne and a member of the Church of the Brethren, said that the volunteers who will come to his site will do a variety of things. “Anywhere from counseling to cooking,” said Brehmeyer.

The student will be able to lead hikes and programs as well as develop their own programs. The camp has three different age groups ranging from junior camp to high school camp.

“Our mission is simply to get as many kids up there and help as many as we can,” said Brehmeyer.

After about 20 minutes of mingling between the college students and the sponsors, Don Flora, director of church relations, called everyone to their seats for the announcement of what students will go to which site.

Four students will travel out of the state. Junior Alma Barrera will work at Camp Myrtlewood in Oregon alongside freshmen Alen Zilic.

Barrera said, “I’m excited because I want to go out of state.”

Castro will go to Mountain View in Idaho where she will assist a pastor in a church congregation. Sophomore Kally Bush will also travel to Idaho where she will work in Springfield at the Church of the Brethren, also assisting a pastor.

Senior Tony Tong will return to Washington where he served last year working at Camp Koinonia, the only site in that state this year. Sophomore Pauline Duran will travel to Portland, Ore., where she will assist the Portland Peace Church of the Brethren.

Other volunteers will remain in California. Those include sophomore Valancy Rasmussen, who will be located in Bakersfield where she will work with the Church of there Brethren there, assisting a pastor. Freshman Vianna Mendoza who will work with SERRV, an international self-help organization that makes and distributes handicrafts from developing nations. The SERRV location is in North County, which is near San Diego.

Freshman Seline Montoya will work with Camp Mariastella in Wrightwood, Calif., where she will be working with at-risk students.

Freshmen Robin Moore will work for the David and Margaret Group Home in La Verne; sophomore Diane Ramos will work at Hillcrest Homes in La Verne; freshman Araceli Esparza will work at the Pomona Fellowship Church of the Brethren; freshman Allison Moore at YMCA Camp Oaks in the Angeles Mountains; Gina Richardson at Camp La Verne in the Angeles Oaks and sophomore Heather Sheets at St. Andrews Presbyterian in La Puente, Calif.

“It’s an opportunity for students to get outside what is familiar to them,” said Debbie Roberts, Protestant campus minister.

The Summer Service program is in its 40th year of serving the community. It began in 1957 with four students at two sites.

Sponsor Ida Howell has been involved since the first year. She recalls that the man who started the service program was a part of the Pomona Church of the Brethren that she attended. She was so interested that she had to get involved.

In the past five years, Howell began writing letters to the students at the different sites. She says modestly that it is just something to keep them company in case they got lonely at their sites.

Once the 1997-98 school year begins, there will be a dinner and a celebration where the students will share their experiences.

Members of the mostly female team of volunteers smile anxiously as they begin meeting their site sponsors. Roberts says Campus Ministry locates potential sites by sending out letters, especially to the Church of the Brethren, with which the University is affiliated, and other locations she has found out about through word of mouth.

Students who apply for Summer Service must go through an extensive interview process in which some of the qualifications that are looked at include communication skills, how they plan to grow spiritually and how well it seems that they will adapt to a new location and setting.

Bush said that she is really exited about the summer.

“I worked for a whole entire year and felt that I was cheating myself out of the experience I could have had at college,” she said.

Reaching her breaking point, Bush finally quit her job and applied for the Summer Service position.

Summer Service volunteers will remain working at their sites for 10 weeks and will receive a scholarship and a weekly $50 stipend.

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